The Great Pumpkin Patch

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It may be time to toss out the jack-o-lanterns, but that doesn't mean the pumpkin season is over. Not by a long shot! And how about those leaves?

I'm beginning to reminisce about taking the kids to pick pumpkins and squashes to decorate the front steps. Here’s a picture of our very first trip to the Great Pumpkin Patch. That’s my son, Gregory, on my back, with Rebecca leading the charge.


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Rebecca has made her choice!


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Everyone’s happy! Even Gregory, who’s sound asleep! By the way, I still have those crazy sunglasses!


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I’ve included a sampling of other pumpkin photos at the end of this post, so scroll down and be entertained! But first, learn about the many health benefits of pumpkins, squash and other orange foods.


These foods create a festive holiday spread, but there's so much more to them that just good looks. The orange color indicates the presence of beta carotene, a very important antioxidant. It's a precursor to vitamin A, which means it's converted into A by our livers. As an anti-oxidant, beta carotene protects our cells from damage caused by oxidation and other daily stresses on the body. Since cell damage can lead to heart disease and cancer, It is believed that beta carotene lowers the risk of those and many other chronic diseases.

Perhaps the most well-known benefit is for eye health. Since we were children, our parents pointed to Bugs Bunny, the expert on carrots. "See how he eats his carrots every day? And he has great eyes!" Our parents were right. Carrots and other orange foods support eye health. Studies have shown that beta carotene taken along with vitamins C and E can slow the progression of macular degeneration.

Vitamin A also benefits the skin, mucous membranes and the immune system. Studies suggest that eating plenty of orange, red and yellow foods, all rich in beta carotene, might prevent the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, too.

Beta carotene is best in its natural form in food. Supplements that contain a concentrated synthetic form have been studied and found to be far inferior to the natural form. In fact, studies indicated that the synthetic beta carotene was either ineffective or harmful. So, get your beta carotene naturally, like Bugs Bunny does.

Vitamin A ,or retinol, is a fat soluble vitamin and can have harmful effects if taken in excess, although there's much debate about how much qualifies as "excessive." On the other hand, natural beta carotene (the precursor to A) is much safer. If the body doesn't need it, it does not convert it.

Because A and beta carotene are fat soluble, it's best to combine them with a little fat to help with absorption. That's easy enough, since we usually put a dab of butter on our sweet potatoes and a dollop of whipped cream on our pumpkin pie.

Good orange-colored food sources of beta carotene include:

  • apricots
  • cantaloupe
  • carrots
  • kumquats
  • mangoes
  • nectarines
  • oranges
  • papayas
  • peaches
  • persimmons
  • squashes
  • sweet potatoes
  • tangerines

...and probably more that I've forgotten about.

 

When you see orange fruits and vegetables on your plate, eat up! Know that you are supporting healthy eyes, skin, joints, tissues, and cells. You are giving your body the fuel it needs to have a strong immune system to fight off those scary viruses out there. You will also reduce the risk factors for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  

 

"That's all, folks!" ~ Bugs Bunny 


“Not really, There’s more! Here are the photos I promised.” ~ Bobbi

 

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What cutie pies!


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They grow up so fast. I don’t know what happened to the photos in between, but I know we picked pumpkins every year.


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Fun family times!


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And fun times with cousins.


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More fun times just on their own.


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Team work!


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Rebecca’s off to college and it’s all up to Greg.


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Now we have a new member of the Pumpkin Pickin’ Family. 

Rebecca’s husband, Nick. Life is good!


References

Beling. S. Power Foods. NY. 1997

University of Maryland Medical Center.

Beta Carotene. June 2013. From website: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/betacarotene

Self Nutrition Data. Foods Highest in Beta Carotene. From website: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™